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(Update 1:20 p.m., 12/18/19: The meeting has been cancelled for lack of a quorum.)
Evanston aldermen, who decided last week to ask voters to confirm the city’s non-partisan election tradition in a referendum next March, will consider two options for additional election changes at a special meeting Wednesday evening.

One proposal, prepared by city staff, would by resolution change the deadline for mayoral candidates to submit petitions to get on the ballot to match the petition filing deadlines set under state law for candidates running for alderman and city clerk.

Assuming the referendum to hold non-partisan elections passes, that would make the filing period for all local offices run from 99 to 92 days before the primary election. In 2021 the primary is scheduled for Feb. 23.

Currently, the city’s legal staff says, Council resolution 69-R-92, adopted in 1992, sets the mayoral filing deadline as 90 days before the primary.

A second option, suggested by City Clerk Devon Reid, would be considerably more complicated and would require voters to approve an additional referendum.

Reid, in addition to eliminating the discrepancy in filing deadlines, seeks to expand upon a 1992 local referendum that provided for holding a primary for mayor if more than two candidates run to also require primaries for aldermen and city clerk if more than two candidates are seeking each office.

Currently, under state law, primaries for aldermen and the city clerk are only held if more than four candidates seek a given office.

In addition, Reid’s referendum would repeal the portion of the 1992 referendum that called for a candidate who received more than 50 percent of the mayoral primary vote to be elected without having to run again in the general election. Under Reid’s plan that candidate would have to run in the general election against the second-place finisher from the primary.

Assistant City Attorney Hugh DuBose says the changes Reid is proposing would likely increase the number of primary contests and the overall cost of running a campaign.

However, he suggests, there is “a compelling policy argument” for Reid’s plan to make a mayoral candidate who wins over 50 percent of the primary vote still run in the general election, because general elections typically have higher turnouts.

But, he says, that change would force a candidate with overwhelming support in the primary to incur extra costs to participate in the general election.

Wednesday’s special Council meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. at the Civic Center.

Related stories

Voters to get nonpartisan elections referendum (12/10/19)

Two referendums about elections may be on the ballot (10/8/19)

Aldermen face decision on nonpartisan elections (10/4/19)

Should Evanston elections remain nonpartisan? (6/2/19)

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. It’s not true that primary

    It’s not true that primary elections have lower turnouts.  Partisan primaries have lower turnouts.  Winner-take-all non-partisan first rounds have similar turnouts to the run-off round, and sometimes higher. For instance, in last year’s Chicago mayoral election, the preliminary round had a higher turnout.  February 2019 ballots cast – 560,701;  April 2019 – 526,886.

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